The UTEP football team needed this game against Houston Baptist for a number of reasons.
They needed their star running back to have a big game, they needed their defense to play lights out, they needed their young quarterback to toss some touchdowns, and they needed a win.
All of that happened as UTEP ran over HBU 42-10 Saturday night in the Sun Bowl.
The Miners put up 514 yards of offense, 323 of those coming on the ground, while the defense allowed just 3.8 yards per play, and forced five three-and-outs.
UTEP wasted no time getting Aaron Jones loose for a touchdown, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive of the game for the first time all season.
Jones easily ran for a 39-yard touchdown to finish off a quick 4-play, 77-yard drive to open the scoring.
The Miners would make it 14-0 with a 7-play, 80 yard drive, finished off with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Metz to Hayden Plinke on a misdirection play action pass in where Plinke slipped wide open for a the score.
UTEP’s defense was lights out early and often, only allowing 68 total yards on HBU’s first three drives, forcing a pair of three-and-outs.
The third stop gave UTEP’s offense a short field, and another easy score.
Terry Juniel would return a punt 43-yards after the defense’s latest stop, tack on 15-plus yards due to a face mask, and the Miners started their next drive at the HBU 15-yard line.
Two plays later, Metz hooked up with Cole Freytag this time who fought through a pass interference on a deep crossing route to haul in a 14-yard score to put UTEP ahead 21-0 just seven seconds into the second quarter.
Then after another three-and-out stand by the UTEP defense, Aaron Jones showed off the juice and put this one away early.
Jones would sprint past the HBU defense on 68-yard run up the middle untouched to put UTEP up 28-0 with 13:36 left until halftime.
He ran for 181 yards on just 10 carries in the first half, and finished with 228 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Jones just needs 67 yards to surpass John Harvey as UTEP’s all-time rushing leader.
Ryan Metz was an efficient 16-of-21 passing for 191 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns went to Hayden Plinke who caught seven passes for 77 yards.
Freshman Kevin Dove carried 10 times for 59 yards, and scored his first career touchdown which gave UTEP a 35-3 lead early in the third quarter.
Dante Lovilette continues his productive start to his UTEP career piling up eight tackles to lead the defensive charge.
UTEP improves to 3-6 overall, with three games remaining in a win or go home type of mentality in terms of their slim bowl hopes.
They will try to shake their Eastern Time zone woes next week against 2-6 FAU.